Sep 9, 2013

The Holy War Against Pop Culture Pagans

A trio of pretty, karate trained teens are battling demons around the world. Charmed? No. Worse. Brynne Larson, Tess Scherkenback, and Savannah Scherkenback are evangelical Christian exorcists who have been touring impoverished mining towns in Ukraine armed with nothing but crosses, holy water... and Larson's preacher father. Their efforts at saving these lost souls from the tortures of hell have received mixed reviews... from the director of their documentary.

[Charlet] Duboc said: ‘The way they come across on camera is just the way they were when we turned off the camera, they never stopped the vacant smiling,’ the British film-maker said.

They weren’t horrid, they weren’t unpleasant, they were just a bit creepy. It was a bit like talking to the Stepford Wives, I was like “where are the humans behind this?”’

The girls will be taking their glazed expressions and vapid smiles to the heart of the dragon, which is to say Potterworld, which is to say London. Someone has to protect unwitting entertainment seekers from demonic possession!

The threesome, from Arizona, believe the spells in J.K. Rowling's best-selling fantasy series are real, and dangerous.

In fact, they see Britain as a hotbed of occult activity whose origins go back to pagan times.

Savannah explains: 'It has been centuries in the making, but I believe it came to a pinnacle with the Harry Potter books.'

'The spells you are reading about are not made up,' adds Tess. 'They are real and come from witchcraft.'

Well, no. The Potter series is actually based on Western Alchemy, but why quibble.

Meanwhile, Methodist minister Keith Cressman is keeping his battle against idolatry closer to home -- Oklahoma, to be precise. It would appear that the state has graced its official license plate with the image of a the "Sacred Rain Arrow." The sculpture on which it is based depicts an Chiricahua warrior shooting an arrow into the sky to make it rain.

Said Cressman, through an attorney, putting such a plate on his car makes him a "mobile billboard" for a pagan religion. Despite his insistence to the contrary, it seems pretty clear that he holds Native American "religion, culture, or belief" in a fair bit of contempt. That, however, is his right, so I'm not really sure which side of this debate bothers me more -- Cressman's fear of the unholy savages who lived in Oklahoma first or the State's trivialization and cooptation of Native practices by reducing them to a logo.

Oklahoma no doubt meant this to be a way of honoring its large -- and largely discriminated against -- Native American population. But by putting an image of an Apache ritual on a state issued plate, they're effectively saying that those beliefs are not a religion. Would they put a an image of the Eucharist on a license plate? I'm betting not -- not even those Oklahomans who don't believe in separation of church and state.

“(T)he case presents legal issues of freedom of speech and religion that I feel are important for all Americans of all religious, non-religious and ethnic backgrounds,” Cressman wrote.

“The case may help define personal liberties and freedoms protected by the Constitution of the United States.”

. . .

Hemant Mehta, author and board member for the humanist-based Foundation Beyond Belief, wrote of the ruling:

“If this image goes too far, then surely a cross or other religious symbol can’t be allowed on a license plate, either. A devout Christian may have done a huge favor to all of us who support church/state separation.”

Okay, I've picked a side.

Comments on this entry are closed, on this blog. If you wish to comment, please find this and all newer blog entries crossposted on Celestial Reflections.